West Ham United's Under-18s made it six Barclays Premier Academy League matches without defeat with a 1-1 draw against Norwich City at Colney.
The Canaries took the lead against the run of play with just five minutes remaining, only for Oliver Lee to salvage a point for the Hammers with a neat 88th-minute finish. Academy director Tony Carr was disappointed that his players had not secured the victory that their performance had deserved, but happy to see his team extend their long unbeaten run.
"I felt we were the better team throughout the 90 minutes but obviously we didn't convert that superiority into goals and it almost rebounded on us when they scored in the 85th-minute. In the end, we're not necessarily grateful for a draw but we dug it out of a game that we should have won fairly comfortably.
"We missed good chances either because we delayed a pass or delayed a shot or made bad errors of judgement in vital positions and in the end it cost us. It's certainly a game we will look back on and think we should have won.
"We were either passing when we should have been shooting or vice-versa and also missed a couple of good opportunities - one where they cleared it off the line and another when their goalkeeper made a fantastic save. Balint Bajner also had a great headed opportunity that he directed straight at the goalkeeper. They weren't all clear-cut chances but just opportunities where we didn't take the right decisions."
It looked like the home side were on their way to victory when they scored through an untidy, controversial Nick Davey effort late on. Again, Carr said the Hammers had been their own worst enemies in gifting their hosts the lead.
"Josh Payne, who was playing his first game for us in a long time due to his loan spell at Cheltenham Town and a knee injury, gave the ball away in our own half. Anthony Edgar got possession for us and then gave it back to them again. They took advantage and scrambled the ball in. Our defenders claimed it had not crossed the line, but the linesman gave it so it was a goal.
"Thankfully, we got an opportunity and got our equaliser. Anthony came in on his right foot from the left and chipped the ball up to the far post. Josh laid it back square and Oliver Lee, with his back to goal, managed to swivel and back-heel it past the Norwich goalkeeper from very close-range to earn us a point. That gave us a draw, which was thoroughly deserved, but we're all disappointed we didn't win it to be honest."
As well as the return of Payne, Saturday's match also saw highly-rated Spanish defender Sergio Sanchez, a regular in the Under-16 side, make his bow for the Under-18s. West Ham will return to action with a trip to league leaders Arsenal on Saturday. Carr's youngsters will be keen to avenge the 2-1 loss they suffered to the Gunners at Little Heath on 27 September.
West Ham United: Loveday, Barrett, Fry, McNaughton, Sanchez, Kearns, Payne, Lee, Grasser (Okus 78), Bajner (Subuola 76), Abdulla (Edgar 75)
Sub not used: Cowler